Performance on inhibitory tasks does not relate to handedness in several small groups of Callitrichids

Abstract

Brain lateralization, a trait ubiquitous in vertebrates and invertebrates, refers to structural differences between the left and right sides of the brain or to the left and right sides controlling different functions or processing information in different ways. Many studies have looked into the advantages of lateralized brains and discovered that cerebral lateralization confers a fitness advantage. Enhancing cognitive ability has been proposed as one of the potential benefits of the lateralized brain, however, this has not been widely validated. In this study, we investigated the handedness of 34 subjects from four groups of Callitrichids, as well as their performance in two inhibitory control tasks (the revised A-not-B task and the cylinder task). The subjects had strong individual hand preferences, and only a few zoo-born individuals were ambidextrous. Sex and generation influence the strength of hand preference. In the cylinder task, the subjects showed differences between groups, and the performance of the second-generation was better than that of the first-generation. We found that neither the strength of hand preferences (ABS-HI) or direction of hand preferences (HI) was linked with success on the two inhibitory tasks. That is, we were unable to support the enhanced cognitive function hypothesis. We believe that individual ontogeny and the type of cognitive task have an impact on the support of this hypothesis. The advantages of lateralized brain may be reflected in tests that require multiple cognitive abilities.

From representations to servomechanisms to oscillators: my journey in the study of cognition

Abstract

The study of comparative cognition bloomed in the 1970s and 1980s with a focus on representations in the heads of animals that undergird what animals can achieve. Even in action-packed domains such as navigation and spatial cognition, a focus on representations prevailed. In the 1990s, I suggested a conception of navigation in terms of navigational servomechanisms. A servomechanism can be said to aim for a goal, with deviations from the goal-directed path registering as an error. The error drives action to reduce the error in a negative-feedback loop. This loop, with the action reducing the very signal that drove action in the first place, is key to defining a servomechanism. Even though actions are crucial components of servomechanisms, my focus was on the representational component that encodes signals and evaluates errors. Recently, I modified and amplified this view in claiming that, in navigation, servomechanisms operate by modulating the performance of oscillators, endogenous units that produce periodic action. The pattern is found from bacteria travelling micrometres to sea turtles travelling thousands of kilometres. This pattern of servomechanisms working with oscillators is found in other realms of cognition and of life. I think that oscillators provide an effective way to organise an organism’s own activities while servomechanisms provide an effective means to adjust to the organism’s environment, including that of its own body.

Information-seeking across auditory scenes by an echolocating dolphin

Abstract

Dolphins gain information through echolocation, a publicly accessible sensory system in which dolphins produce clicks and process returning echoes, thereby both investigating and contributing to auditory scenes. How their knowledge of these scenes contributes to their echoic information-seeking is unclear. Here, we investigate their top–down cognitive processes in an echoic matching-to-sample task in which targets and auditory scenes vary in their decipherability and shift from being completely unfamiliar to familiar. A blind-folded adult male dolphin investigated a target sample positioned in front of a hydrophone to allow recording of clicks, a measure of information-seeking and effort; the dolphin received fish for choosing an object identical to the sample from 3 alternatives. We presented 20 three-object sets, unfamiliar in the first five 18-trial sessions with each set. Performance accuracy and click counts varied widely across sets. Click counts of the four lowest-performance-accuracy/low-discriminability sets (X = 41%) and the four highest-performance-accuracy/high-discriminability sets (X = 91%) were similar at the first sessions’ starts and then decreased for both kinds of scenes, although the decrease was substantially greater for low-discriminability sets. In four challenging-but-doable sets, number of clicks remained relatively steady across the 5 sessions. Reduced echoic effort with low-discriminability sets was not due to overall motivation: the differential relationship between click number and object-set discriminability was maintained when difficult and easy trials were interleaved and when objects from originally difficult scenes were grouped with more discriminable objects. These data suggest that dolphins calibrate their echoic information-seeking effort based on their knowledge and expectations of auditory scenes.

Mechanisms of auditory masking in marine mammals

Abstract

Anthropogenic noise is an increasing threat to marine mammals that rely on sound for communication, navigation, detecting prey and predators, and finding mates. Auditory masking is one consequence of anthropogenic noise, the study of which is approached from multiple disciplines including field investigations of animal behavior, noise characterization from in-situ recordings, computational modeling of communication space, and hearing experiments conducted in the laboratory. This paper focuses on laboratory hearing experiments applying psychophysical methods, with an emphasis on the mechanisms that govern auditory masking. Topics include tone detection in simple, complex, and natural noise; mechanisms for comodulation masking release and other forms of release from masking; the role of temporal resolution in auditory masking; and energetic vs informational masking.

Cognition of the manatee: past research and future developments

Abstract

In this paper, we present a review of the current knowledge related to the cognitive abilities of the manatee, with a focus on the Antillean manatee in situ and ex situ. Following a biocentric approach, we consider the animals’ ecology, perception and sociality and we introduce future perspectives on their cognition. Scientific literature on the cognitive abilities of Antillean manatees’ is limited and mainly linked to medical training and veterinary manipulations. To perceive and to interact with their social and natural environment (e.g. social interactions, foraging and traveling), manatees use visual, acoustic and tactile modalities that may be involved in a large range of cognitive abilities. Research on stimuli perception in manatees is scarce; however, these animals demonstrate abilities to learn and appear to show long-term memory. For example, to mate and/or to forage manatees travel at medium and large geographical scales; without doubt their movements entail the use of a set of stimuli and learning processes. Furthermore, their social skills (e.g. social organization, tactile and acoustic communications) are also poorly understood although their social interactions appear to be more complex than previously thought. Finally, as for many animals, temperament/personality may play a key role during their interactions with conspecifics and the environment. These aspects on manatee behavior and cognition are important for management and conservation purposes and help us understand the evolution of these marine mammals.